[Marxism] Fwd: A Profile of John Grierson, Godfather of DocCinema | Videomaker.com

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 8 12:08:36 MST 2017

A Profile of John Grierson, Godfather of DocCinema
The Godfather of DocCinema - BBC Two - Documenting John Grierson (2014)
by Peter Biesterfeld

“We believe that the cinema's capacity for getting around, for observing 
and selecting from life itself can be exploited in a new and vital art 

—John Grierson, First Principles of Documentary

The orbit of John Grierson’s legacy touches almost everything we know 
about documentary. The five-foot something Scotsman with an orator’s 
voice single-handedly birthed the documentary form when cinema itself 
was still in its infancy.

Just as Orson Welles pushed cinematic boundaries in the way Hollywood 
stories were told, so John Grierson brought ground-breaking innovations 
to non-fiction storytelling deployed and enjoyed by documentary 
filmmakers 90 years later: actuality footage to tell a dramatic story, 
the documentary interview, post-sync audio (looping) and multi-layered 
sound design were foundational production elements introduced on 
Grierson’s watch.

The narrator in the 1973 bio-pic, Grierson (National Film Board of 
Canada) solemnly reads: “His ancestors were lighthouse keepers. He 
himself spent a lifetime seeing to it that movies were made and used in 
ways no man before him had imagined.”

Grierson made it his life’s ambition to put film to a social purpose. 
“Film can be mobilized in the public service to give image and 
perspective to the national scene,” is how he put it.


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